I have addressed here many times how I’m on the side of commerce in standup, as I know without profit, there is just another closed venue. Having said this, sometimes promotion gets in the way of a good show that night.
Possibly the worst offense on this part is when clubs show video of their upcoming comics. Now I totally understand the promotional element that provides, but if not done right, it can damage the show you have that night. Here are the reasons.
- Let’s say you have a big name act coming up. For example, Rob Schneider is doing some comedy clubs. When the audience sees that Deuce Bigalow will be on this same stage in a few weeks, well it makes them feel kind of short-changed by only getting Scott Long this week. I don’t really have an answer for this, as I know the club has to make people aware of the big events, but it doesn’t help the non-event shows that clubs often really make their most money on.
- The poor MC is the first person who has to follow these headliner videos. The audience at some clubs gets 5-10 minutes of standup from big-time headliners and then someone who is barely getting paid and is generally early in their comedy career has to try to make the actual audience laugh. Really tough job. Not sure I have answer to this problem, but it definitely negatively impacts the show from the beginning.
- Some of the clips the clubs use feature the upcoming comics using dirty material. (Part 1) I have been at clubs that specifically tell the opening act (and to a certain extent the middle act) to do a clean show in front of the headliner, only to have the pre-show clips throwing out F-bombs, left and right. Now the opening acts already have a tough enough time and have one of their arms tied behind them by being told to perform clean(er) material, so to have to follow some bigger name comic going Def Comedy Jam is a no-win situation.
- Some of the clips the clubs use feature the upcoming comics using dirty material. (Part 2) I have worked with Frank Caliendo at clubs where the show was advertised as being PG-rated, only to have really dirty material done in the pre-show clips. This is just dumb on the comedy clubs part. Many of the people who come out for a show advertised being PG, get very offended when they are bombarded before the show starts with a lot of adult language. When you go to a PG movie, you don’t expect to get R-rated previews. Common sense.
I know no one is asking for my consultant skills on how to run their club, but here is how I would use the promotional clips before the show.
15 minutes before the show, show some clips of your upcoming acts. Make sure they are short (no longer than 30 seconds per act) and that they are PG-rated. Have that show for no longer than 5 minutes. If you want to continue to promote up until showtime, just show photos with the dates listed and credits for each performer. You wouldn’t ask a MC to follow Harland Williams at the club, so why do you think it’s a good idea for them to directly do it through a video clip?
Just wanted to get this one off of my chest.